Arizona Governor Jan Brewer this morning signed a bill that gives her the authority to request a waiver from the federal government that would temporarily remove nearly 300,000 of the state's neediest people from the Medicaid program.
The governor's plan would remove about 280,000 low-income adults from the program, saving the state more than $500 million.
The $540 million that the program is expected to save would take a big chunk out of the state's projected $1.1 billion budget shortfall this year -- all while eliminating vital services for some of the state's neediest residents.
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"As I have previously stated, the growth in Arizona Medicaid spending is a key driver of our state's current budget crisis," Brewer says in a statement. "Medicaid's explosive growth, nearing almost 65 percent over the past four years, despite ongoing attempts to stem its increases, is simply unsustainable and threatens to consume the core functions of state government."
Click here to read this week's New Times feature outlining how some of the other cuts Brewer's proposing -- specifically in regard to mental health -- will affect health services in Arizona.
"I am mindful of the very real impacts these reductions will have," Brewer continues, "but given our state's current fiscal situation and the solutions enacted to date, I truly believe this is Arizona's only option to restore our fiscal stability."
The governor says her request will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services by next week. Additionally, Brewer says she plans to meet with DHHS Director Kathleen Sebelius in coming weeks to discuss the waiver.